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Thread: VW's Symphony no.6

  1. #1
    Senior Member Lisztfreak's Avatar
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    Default VW's Symphony no.6

    Finally heard the symphony that's in my signature.

    Well, although in my opinion it's not that dramatic (nor 'HORRIBLE!') as the foreword to my CD says (critics love to exaggerate), it definitely proves that classical music doesn't have to be and very often isn't stately and pretty - it can be ravaging, wildly emotional and also rather nihilist. Proved by Liszt, for example, and reached it's peak in some later works, of which Vaughan Williams' no.6 is surely an important one.

    What do you think?
    ''Oh, the String Quartet - oh, the Divine Scratching!''

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    Senior Member Lisztfreak's Avatar
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    Well? Has no one heard this piece?
    ''Oh, the String Quartet - oh, the Divine Scratching!''

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    Senior Member Frasier's Avatar
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    Of course. I studied this one. I've never regarded RVW as a brilliant composer but the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th symphonies were good. His handling of brass in tutti is brilliant.

    A lot of the blurbs talked about how the war influenced RVW's 6th, perhaps rightly but it's certainly one of his most energetic and complex works. His handling of the second movement build-up is quite incredible, just as the way the fourth movement dies away. I've heard a few recordings and am still convinced by Boult's - though the Previn from what? 1967/68 is more 'hi-fi' and biting it overdoes a couple of passages - like the chords in the Epilogue for 3 clarinets and a cello (bar 45, just after reh.4). Clearly, VW wanted 4-part chords and knew the cello would blend with clarinets, so he asked for a cello soloist, that Previn tends to treat as a cello solo when it's obviously part of the harmony.

    It's far from horrible - there's some magical orchestration there!
    Last edited by Frasier; Mar-11-2007 at 15:32.

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    Senior Member Lisztfreak's Avatar
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    I've heard only the Sir Andrew Davis' version? Do you think it's good?
    ''Oh, the String Quartet - oh, the Divine Scratching!''

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    Senior Member Frasier's Avatar
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    yes. Andrew Davis is one of the recommended recent recordings.

    I sometimes look to the older ones like Boult and Barbirolli because they knew VW well; he trusted them with a lot of his work, as Delius did, Beecham, suggesting he approved of their interpretations.

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    The final movement "epilogue" is one of the greatest pieces of the C20th. Whatever it is about (post blitz London? Post holocaust Europe?) its so tense, dark and ethereal. On the whole this is probably not his most cohesive symphony, its a bit of a mixed bag and uneven, but the final movement makes it very worthwhile for it to be in your collection, whether you have an old recording like I have (Boult's version from the 1950s) or a newer one.

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